warning: a very silly person wrote this

If you are in the mood for a serious reflection this bloggage is a good one to avoid. Please don’t read on.

If you have a good opinion of me, perhaps you had better not read on… or maybe you should know the truth!

Let me set the scene: I was at a conference, listening to an excellent speaker who was making some excellent points in a really engaging way. I was glad to be there. It was edifying and encouraging.

And then the speaker said something serious and important that had a double meaning. It was not a double-entendre, and it was certainly unintentional, but as well as the speaker’s intended significant and excellent meaning there was a possible lavatorial interpretation that accompanied that phrase. (I will not be telling you what the phrase was, nor who the speaker was as it’s not fair on them).

I like to think that I am a relatively mature person. I like to think that I have a small amount of gravitas and wisdom. I like to think that I am a sensitive, spiritual person. I am now a Regional Minister and am supposed to set a good example to others. But at that moment the inner five year-old boy broke out of my subconscious and I could only think of the lavatorial interpretation of what was being said. Inside my head I was howling with laughter but I knew (because I am mature, have gravitas and am wise, sensitive and spiritual) that I should not show this at all. I tried to keep a straight face but every time I thought I was managing to do so I could hear the inner five year-old boy laughing again.

Just when I thought I had control of myself and the smirk reflex was being suppressed I made the mistake of glancing along the row. I was interested to see whether it was just me who had picked up the possible lavatorial interpretation. At that moment one of my friends along the row (who had clearly been wrestling with a similar problem) glanced along the row in my direction and caught my eye. There was a glint of mischief in their eye (and maybe in mine) and suddenly the smirk reflex was back in full flow, accompanied by an almost irresistible urge to laugh.

And you know how it is, don’t you? When you try to stop yourself from laughing and you know it’s meant to be serious and you don’t want to distract anyone else the only thing you are capable of doing is laughing.

I had to cover my face and try to look like I was seriously in prayer (it was a Christian conference). But then I sensed movement from behind me and realised that another friend was literally rolling on the floor laughing silently. At that point it was almost impossible to keep a straight face and very difficult to stop myself snorting out the guffaw that was bubbling up inside me. Cue ‘shampoo position’ in deep prayer.

Somehow, by God’s grace, I managed to control myself. The inner five year-old boy sulked back into my subconscious as I refused to listen to him and the laughter and smirk reflexes subsided… at least until after the session finished and I met up with those friends who had received the lavatorial interpretation and responded as immaturely as me. Cue much laughter.

As I think back on this I feel rather silly. I feel a bit guilty. I feel as if I ought to apologise to anyone whose opinion of me has been somewhat diminished by all of this. I apologise to the speaker who was brilliant and who was making an important point even as I wrestled with the inner five year-old boy.

I feel like a minion from Despicable Me, laughing at lavatorial interpretations (see the picture on the left for an example).

And yet, I still find myself sniggering and laughing when I think about it: there are some things that are just, well, funny.

Yes, there are times and places when it is inappropriate to laugh. Yes, we need to be sensitive to those around us. Yes, there are times when we need to be mature and sensitive and wise.

But*…

One of the things that I think is part of being made in God’s image is that we have a sense of humour.  And if God has given us a sense of humour (which I believe he has) I think that sometimes we have to allow the inner child to surface and allow ourselves to laugh (even if you have to suppress it until the appropriate moment when the bottled laugh uninhibitedly plunders your serenity).

I am a very silly person. And that’s all right. I think.

Be blessed, be a blessing

*Let me further illustrate my immaturity. I wasn’t there when this happened however a friend who was there told me about it. Had I been there I would have probably responded as above. My friend did…

It was an important meeting and there had been a long discussion. They were close to reaching a consensus when someone who was always serious interrupted the seemingly unanimous flow of the meeting: “I have a ‘but’, and it’s a very big ‘but’.”

Speaking baldly

'Normal' (whatever that is for me)
‘Normal’ (whatever that is for me)

Yesterday was a Bank Holiday in England and was predicted to be the hottest day of the year so far (not difficult). Sally and I went out in the morning and I went equipped with a cap to stop the top of my head from getting sunburnt in the scorching heat.

For those who are not follicly challenged like me, the wearing of a hat is optional – a fashion decision. When God has decided to reveal the true beauty of the scalp he has given you by removing the hair that covers it you need to be prepared to cover it in order to protect it (and also prevent glare from the shine causing distress to others).

One of the things I have discovered from my increased cap-wearing is that you have to live with the consequences of deciding to wear a cap. Because there is no fringe on the forehead of the non-hirsute head any lines that are caused by wearing the cap will be very visible when you take it off. So, unless you don’t mind looking like you have a very big frown line, you have to decide to keep the cap on for long periods of time. That means that the tradition of taking your hat off when you go indoors is eschewed in favour of not having people point at your head laughing. Hats remain un-doffed to ladies. And when you continue to wear the hat when the sun has hidden itself you risk looking like someone who is trying (and failing) to make a fashion statement.

Yesterday was not a scorching hot day in the Colchester area. I would describe it as Wesley weather. (John Wesley describes the moment when he became a Christian as his heart being ‘strangely warmed’.) The cloud cover was sufficient that the sun played ‘hide and seek’ during much of the day and I reluctantly realised that the silliness of a man in his mid 40s (I know, I look much older) wearing a baseball cap (oriented correctly I should add) was greater than the temporary silliness of having a line across the front of my head. After a little while that line would disappear and I would look ‘normal’ again. (Yes, I know, I don’t look normal at the best of times, but you know what I mean!)

At the same time I was also aware that wearing a cap covered the surgery scar that I have in the back of my head. It is in the middle of what little hair I have left and is very obvious. I used to be very self-conscious about it but now I hardly give it a second thought. Yesterday the thought occurred to me briefly as I contemplated the line at the front that it would distract people from the scar at the back.

So many of the worries and concerns we have in life are like the lines on a bald man’s head. They are things that make a mark on us, but it is a temporary mark. It will fade. It will pass. In days gone by today’s news was wrapped around tomorrow’s fish and chips* and that was a metaphor for the transitory nature of many of life’s issues and problems. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells people not to worry so much because God’s got them in mind and worrying won’t change anything anyway. If God has us in mind we can relax a bit more.

Now I do know that not all of the things that worry and concern us are transitory. Some things make a lasting scar on us (like the one on the back of my head). But just because we are scarred does not mean we are defined by our scars. We carry them with us always. Yet they do fade a bit and can be reminders not only of the painful experience of life but also of God’s faithful presence with us even in the darkest of times.

I usually close my bloggages with ‘Be blessed, be a blessing’ but today (as well as that) I want to offer you a blessing that is based on 1 Kings 8:

The Lord, the righteous God, make his face to shine upon you, the Lord fill you with a joy greater than all this world can give, the Lord make you to sleep in peace and to dwell in safety; and the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you now and always.

*why do they use plain paper now instead of recycling newspaper?